It’s expensive, wasteful and — contrary to popular belief — not any healthier for you than tap water.
BOTTLES, BOTTLES EVERYWHERE: Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year.
Bottled water is healthy water — or so marketers would have us believe. Just look at the labels or the bottled water ads: deep, pristine pools of spring water; majestic alpine peaks; healthy, active people gulping down icy bottled water between biking in the park and a trip to the yoga studio.
In reality, bottled water is just water. That fact isn’t stopping people from buying a lot of it. Estimates variously place worldwide bottled water sales at between $50 and $100 billion each year, with the market expanding at the startling annual rate of 7 percent.
Bottled water is big business. But in terms of sustainability, bottled water is a dry well. It’s costly, wasteful and distracts from the brass ring of public health: the construction and maintenance of safe municipal water systems.
Want some solid reasons to kick the bottled water habit? We’ve rounded up five to get you started.
1) Bottled water isn’t a good value
Take, for instance, Pepsi’s Aquafina or Coca-Cola’s Dasani bottled water. Both are sold in 20 ounce sizes and can be purchased from vending machines alongside soft drinks — and at the same price. Assuming you can find a $1 machine, that works out to 5 cents an ounce. These two brands are essentially filtered tap water, bottled close to their distribution point. Most municipal water costs less than 1 cent per gallon.
Now consider another widely sold liquid: gasoline. It has to be pumped out of the ground in the form of crude Thirst, authors Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman demonstrated the rapid worldwide privatization of municipal water supplies, and the effect these purchases are having on local economies.
Water is being called the “Blue Gold” of the 21st century. Thanks to increasing urbanization and population, shifting climates and industrial pollution, fresh water is becoming humanity’s most precious resource.
Multinational corporations are stepping in to purchase groundwater and distribution rights wherever they can, and the bottled water industry is an important component in their drive to commoditize what many feel is a basic human right: the access to safe and affordable water.
What can you do?
There’s a simple alternative to bottled water: buy a stainless steel thermos, and use it. Don’t like the way your local tap water tastes? Inexpensive carbon filters will turn most tap water sparkling fresh at a fraction of bottled water’s cost.
Consider taking Food and Water Watch’s No Bottled Water Pledge. Conserve water wherever possible, and stay on top of local water issues. Want to know more? Start with the Sierra Club’s fact sheet on bottled water.